Lansing’s Talent Shortage Weighs Deeply on HR Professionals
Finding workers with the right skills who fit well into a company has always been a challenge for businesses. But the skilled-workers shortage is becoming more and more prominent in Michigan, specifically the Lansing region, and human resource professionals are working overtime to attract and retain talent.
The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, like many organizations, is doing its part to provide resources to employers and hiring staff to help them navigate the talent gap and better promote our region. In spring 2019, the chamber launched its HR Roundtable to hear directly from the source where businesses are struggling to find skilled workers.
Through those discussions, we discovered and learned a number of things:
- HR professionals are some of the most patient, creative individuals.
These staff members work their way through hundreds of applications, set up an abundance of interviews and, once they finally find the right person, have to think outside the box to find new ways to sell the applicant on why he or she should live and work in Lansing.
- Finding the marketing or promotional materials needed to attract talent to the region is a nightmare.
We live and work in a special place. We have great restaurants, diverse residents, athletics, museums, art galleries, breweries, a world-class research university, the state Capitol and so much more. Although we have videos, pictures, brochures and other materials that make Lansing look like a downright amazing place to be, they are scattered across so many platforms that it’s nearly impossible to track them down and present them well. Right now, HR professionals have to send at least six different links to applicants to showcase the area. Quite simply, this approach is neither optimal nor effective.
- Our region has great resources to help businesses attract, retain and develop talent, but they aren’t easy to find.
Between state initiatives like the Going PRO Talent Fund, regional programs like the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s first STEP program, and talent development organizations like Michigan Works!, there are more than 150 talent initiatives and programs in the Lansing area alone. Having that many high-caliber resources could put our region at such an advantage, but there are a few major problems with it that include:
- No one knows about where to find these resources.
- If you find out about a program, whom do you contact?
- There is duplication among the programs, so businesses are wasting valuable time, energy and resources reinventing the wheel.
- Applying for these initiatives can be frustrating, as deadlines, paperwork and requirements change from year to year.
We have a major opportunity moving forward in this region. As the talent issues continue to elevate, we must work together as businesses, community leaders and elected officials to not react to the issues but to get out in front of them and come up with tangible solutions to help our area residents and businesses continue to grow and thrive.
In the past few years, we have seen business-to-business collaborations, like Rotary Park and MICareerQuest, that have aided in placemaking, talent attraction and retention, and the creation of talent pipelines. It is efforts like these that will continue to drive the Lansing region to the top. It’s no longer an option to leave the talent shortage struggles to each individual business and its HR staff. This is a regional issue and we need to work as one to provide solutions.